MINNEAPOLIS -- About a half hour before Paul George and the Indiana Pacers took the court Thursday against Minnesota, George was named as an NBA All-Star for the fifth time in his career. Not long after, the Pacers forward lived up to his All-Star billing. George scored a team-high 32 points and Myles Turner added 23 as Indiana won on the road by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-103 on Thursday. Though George has previously been an All-Star starter, he said Thursday's announcement was special as it meant the NBA's coaches believed he belongs among the game's top players. Thursday's performance validated that notion. "The coaches vote you in and have respect for your game," George said about being an All-Star reserve. "Obviously, I love being a starter as well. But it's always special and a humbling opportunity to be an All-Star in this league." Indiana (23-22) snapped a three-game losing streak three days after the Pacers' third straight loss drew boos from their home crowd. It was George who said after that loss that booing the team wasn't the solution for the frustrated fans or for the Pacers. Playing in front of another team's crowd Thursday, George put on a show that surely made Pacers fans back in Indiana happy. "As Paul goes, it seems like the team goes," said Indiana head coach Nate McMillan. "Not only did he do a solid job on the defensive end of the floor, I thought offensively he got a good rhythm and was knocking down some big shots for us." George scored 16 points in the first half on 7-of-9 shooting. The Pacers' forward finished the game 12 of 22 from the floor, including 3 of 4 from downtown. George also had five rebounds and four assists. Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota (17-29) with a game-high 33 points and 10 rebounds, while Zach LaVine scored 23 in the loss. It was Towns' 35th double-double of the season, third-most among all NBA players. Indiana's lead grew to as many as 10 points early in the second half, and the Pacers took a six-point advantage into the fourth quarter. Minnesota cut the deficit to one midway through the fourth before George hit four straight free throws. He made one after Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau was whistled for a technical foul, and three more after getting fouled on a long-range shot attempt that elicited the technical by Thibodeau. After George's free throws, C.J. Miles hit a 3-pointer to push the Pacers' lead to 89-81. Just like that, Indiana grew its one-point lead into eight in less than one minute of game time. The Timberwolves hit four 3s in the final several minutes, including three by Towns, but could never climb all the way back. Jeff Teague's 3 with 1:55 remaining was answered by a 3 from LaVine and kept the Pacers' lead at nine. Teague had 13 assists and eight rebounds to go with his 20 points. Four straight points by Towns brought the Wolves within 102-97 with 1:11 to play, but Indiana once again had an answer as Miles hit a 3 with 47.3 seconds remaining. "They have some good players that can make big shots," Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins said of the Pacers. "That's what they did." The Pacers were a perfect 13 for 13 at the free throw line Thursday, while Minnesota was 23 of 27 on free throws. Minnesota had won its last three games, all by three points or less, prior to Thursday. The Timberwolves had also won four straight at home before the loss. "I thought we were low energy," Thibodeau said. "I thought we started the game slowly. We were slow to react to the ball. The rebounding was a problem the whole game." The Timberwolves, who own one of the better rebounding differentials in the NBA this season, were out-rebounded 44-34 by a Pacers squad that ranks near the bottom in that category. A win Thursday would have marked Minnesota's first four-game winning streak in more than four years. The last time the Wolves won more than three in a row was back in December 2012. NOTES: Pacers F Kevin Seraphin did not play Thursday due to a sore left knee. Seraphin, who averages 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game, played just five minutes in Indiana's loss to the New York Knicks on Monday. ... Indiana F Paul George was named an Eastern Conference reserve for the 2017 All-Star Game. George, in his seventh NBA season, is averaging 22.2 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. It's the fourth time George has been named to the All-Star team. ... Timberwolves G Zach LaVine said Thursday he will not participate in the Slam Dunk Contest at this year's All-Star Weekend, citing that he hopes to get rest during the break. LaVine won the previous two dunk contests in his first two seasons with Minnesota.
George fulfills All-Star billing as Pacers nip Timberwolves
The Sports Xchange | Jan 26